Wake County

After controversy, Raleigh councilman votes self into tax district

The Raleigh City Council has expanded a special business-tax district along Hillsborough Street, more than a year after the issue first arose at City Hall.

A central part of the debate concerned who would have to pay the tax – amounting to 15 cents per $100 of property value – as the district’s borders expanded up Oberlin Road and east to St. Mary’s St. Councilman Russ Stephenson’s property on Oberlin Road originally was excluded from the expansion, leading some to accuse him of seeking special treatment.

Stephenson argued the opposite case. He said that George Chapman, a board member of the tax-funded Hillsborough Street organization, had told him that past precedent would exclude the land, the site of residences and a small office. Chapman couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Ultimately, the council decided unanimously to include Stephenson’s lot and about 50 others in the new taxing area – but it was complicated.

At first, Stephenson voted against the expansion, including the new taxation of his land. Then Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin asked whether Stephenson should vote on his own property. Stephenson said that he was happy to include his property, but had voted “no” because he opposed the inclusion of a separate lot owned by someone else.

In a new motion, Stephenson voted with the council to authorize the new borders, including his own land. The council then considered whether to include the other property, a parking lot, with Stephenson voting in the negative.

Kenney: 919-829-4870;

Twitter: @KenneyNC